Monadnock Music begins summer season with Peterborough concert

  • Robyn Bollinger, violin and Rafael Popper-Keizer, cello, will play Monadnock Music's Listen & Lunch this week in Depot Park in Peterborough. Courtesy photo—

  • Ashe Gordon, viola, is one of 11 performers playing the works of Valerie Coleman, Louise Farrenc and Johannes Brahms in Monadnock Music's first Village Concert at Depot Park in Peterborough on Saturday. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/17/2021 9:29:34 AM

Stroll by Depot Park in Peterborough on Saturday afternoon and you’ll be treated to what Monadnock Music’s Artistic Director Rafael Popper-Keizer calls the “most extravagant free concert we’ve done.”

The first Village Concert of the summer schedule – and only one in Peterborough – begins at 5 p.m. and includes a collection of 11 musicians that will be paired together in a variety of groupings for the performance of Valerie Coleman’s Tzigane, Louise Farrenc’s Nonet in E-flat major, op. 38 and Sextet for Strings #2 in G major, op. 36 by Johannes Brahms.

“We’ve never had that many for a free village concert,” said Laina Barakat, general manager for Monadnock Music.

Popper-Keizer is one of those musicians and admits that outdoor concerts aren’t the norm for the kind of performances that Monadnock Music is known for.

“As a musician, an outdoor concert is a bit of a tough sell,” he said. “You can’t play the room, sink into the gorgeous acoustics you’re used to.”

But given the state of the world during the planning stages for the 2021 season, putting together an outdoor slate was the only way to safely predict that a season could be pulled off.

“Everything is just a little more complicated,” Popper-Keizer said. “But to be able to come back and play live concerts for people is something I’ve missed so much.”

The free concert is one of eight that Monadnock Music will put on from June through August in some of the more picturesque settings around the region.

So instead of just taking a walk by and letting the music wash over you for a brief moment, you might just want to bring a chair or blanket and stay a while.

Popper-Keizer, a cellist who is entering his 19th year playing for Monadnock Music and officially his second as artistic director (although his first was for not given the canceled season due to COVID-19), said there are some unknowns when it comes to outdoor concerts, but feels it’s a way that can allow the musicians to connect even more with the audience.

“I think with outdoor concerts, they become something more than just the music,” Popper-Keizer said.

Barakat said the decision to have the season outdoors was relatively easy.

“It was let’s just do what we know will be safe and we know we can do,” she said. From there it was about picking the right settings – like the Hancock gazebo and green (July 24), the lawn of the Francestown Old Meetinghouse (Aug. 1) and Jaffrey Center (Aug. 14).

There will also be a concert at Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge on June 30, but that is a ticketed concert – $15 general admission, $10 for members, students and seniors. Other free village concert locations include Westmoreland (June 26), Milford’s Keyes Park Stone Stage (July 10), Marlborough (July 17) and Nelson (Aug. 7). On Aug. 5, there will be a Salon Concert at Stepping Stones Farm & Event Center in Temple with tickets costing $30 and $25.

“I’m just really excited about the summer because it’s fun to do something different,” Barakat said. “To have something new and unexpected.”

Many musicians are returning from previous seasons, despite the change in approach. Popper-Keizer said most artists are just looking for opportunities to play a live concert – regardless of the situation. And for Monadnock Music, it’s about bringing high-quality music to the various communities and making it accessible for everyone.

“I think it’s just a fantastic thing to do,” Popper-Keizer said.

Monadnock Music is also hosting its Listen & Lunch series on Thursdays in Depot Park from noon to 1 p.m., including today with Popper-Keizer and violinist Robyn Bollinger.

For more information and tickets, visit monadnockmusic.org.




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